No Dissatisfaction, No Value. Instead, Commodity Pricing.

On Dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction is the key to creating and winning opportunities. It provides the reason your client will change, it provides the motivation to change, and it creates a context for the presentation of your solution. This is no great secret.

But many sales managers conduct strategic opportunity reviews that fail to address a few fundamental questions on dissatisfaction:

“Why would this client change?”

“What problems cause enough dissatisfaction that they have the justification and the urgency to replace their current solution?”

Too many salespeople believe that a prospect’s receptivity indicates that they in fact have an opportunity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Receptivity is a great starting point for opening a relationship with your dream client, but it isn’t enough by itself to create an opportunity.

Without Dissatisfaction, No Value Can Be Created

Unless and until there is dissatisfaction, it is difficult to create value for your dream client. It is difficult to gain a commitment to change when nothing is broken, because the cost of change is higher than the cost of the status quo.

It is difficult to create a compelling presentation that provides no return on the client’s investment of their time, their energy, and their resources. In order for your dream client decision-maker to forward your proposal, you have to provide them with the justification for doing so.

This is why it is essential that you as a salesperson focus on discovering, eliciting, or creating dissatisfaction early in your sales cycle, and early in your client relationship. In order for you to be of value to your dream client, you have to be able to make a difference for them in their business and in their results.

Without Dissatisfaction You Compete On Price

If your company has not already been significantly commoditized, it is likely still that your prospects and your dream clients treat you as if you have. In most cases, there are countless offerings available that look and feel a lot like yours.

Without dissatisfaction, salespeople rely on price to create dissatisfaction. Despite what the common wisdom suggests, price isn’t usually enough of a motivator by itself. In more cases than not, you cannot lower your prices enough to create the justification and the motivation to change. Your low price has to provide a return on investment that includes the cost of change and disruption in the organization, a fact that most salespeople and sales organizations overlook (until their slightly lower pricing proposal is rejected).

The reason we as salespeople end up talking about price is usually the result of not having asked enough questions to enough people within the organization to discover the dissatisfaction (ask far enough and deep enough into an organization, and you will find dissatisfaction . . . guaranteed), or because we don’t have a set of powerful questions that are designed to create dissatisfaction where none exists (Some of our dream clients don’t know that they should be dissatisfied. Salespeople create that dissatisfaction with questions).

Without dissatisfaction, price is often the only area left in which to compete. Unless it is your company’s strategic decision to compete on price, it is unlikely that your price is low enough by itself to create the motivation and the justification for your dream client to change. Real opportunities must have real dissatisfaction that allow you and your company to make a difference by solving.


Dissatisfaction is the key to creating and winning opportunities. Without it, it is impossible to create value for your dream client. Worse still, it leads to competing on price, an area that by itself almost never provides enough motivation and justification to change. Salespeople are better served by developing dissatisfaction.


How do you create value when no dissatisfaction exists?

Do you have a set of needs analysis questions that elicit and/or create dissatisfaction?

Do you resist asking the tough questions that elicit dissatisfaction because they are sales-oriented? Do you resist asking the tough questions because you cannot prove your return on investment or the improvement you can make?

Do you have a set of questions that help your client become dissatisfied when they are unaware that they should be dissatisfied? Do you have proof-providers that show better results than they are likely to be receiving now?

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  • celius

    I started thinking about your #1 question. If you from your prior research on the customer belive they have got a dissatisfaction, even if it’s hard to get them to admit. Why not ask what they are pleased with and go deeper where you see a possibility.

    Sales people always focus on the dissatisfaction, so in my experience alot of potential clients have a tendency to pretend everything is all right. By asking for all their positive experiences with what they have, they might come short and realise they’ve got a problem after all.

    What do you think about that? :)

    Great blog by the way, have been reading here for months.

  • Thomas Pencek

    Sometimes sales people are the last to know about real client dissatisfaction. Often the people “in the loop” are the people delivering the service. For example, if one is selling copiers, the people who can really “bird dog” the opportunities created by customer dissatisfaction are the technicians who are doing warranty repair work on the client’s machines or the admin who has to summon them. Service delivery partners can be an important source of leads and client intelligence.

    Tom Pencek
    Service for Profit

  • Matt Miller

    “Why would this client change?”

    “What problems cause enough dissatisfaction that they have the justification and the urgency to replace their current solution?”

    Those questions alone need addresed in my day to day sales. The clients in my industry are typically on 5-7 year contracts with competitors. It is important that we start uncovering these problems and dissatisfaction levels early in the sales cycle so that we can better position our products to solve such problems.

    Great Blog. I have shared this with my team. Keep them coming!


    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Matt! That is one killer long sales cycle! Better be working on the dissatisfaction levels deep!

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